July 6, 2013
A Musing - "Old Age"
Actually not so amusing to we who have reached a certain age. I won't be painting this weekend as we are hosting a celebration of no less than three birthdays here at the studio. Two of the birthdays are milestones. My brother-in-law, Jim, is turning 50 and my niece 13. Her father is also celebrating a birthday and I think next year he bests Jim by a decade. Having reached that pinnacle myself last year, I think we may forgo the black balloons and gag gifts like Geritol and Depends as tasteless and too near the knuckle. I have for years shared breakfast every Wednesday with a group of six or seven retired art professors who range in age from 75 to 84. At 60, I am the baby of the group. The "breakfast club" is a lively bunch of merry men who rotate around town to five or six favorite haunts. We arrive after the breakfast rush, around 9:30 and linger over coffee, telling oft repeated jokes and stories of past triumphs and defeats. I say "oft repeated" but I was informed of a standing rule when I was brought into the fold - you were only allowed to tell the same story three times (you got a warning on two.) I remember the first time, after regaling the others with one of my more amusing anecdotes, Bob smiled seraphically and gently raised two fingers. So much for being the baby of the group. We tip extremely well and the waitresses are glad to see us and keep the java flowing. My wife asked me once what we talked about for all these years. That is a good question. What we don't talk about is our health, recent operations or the inevitability of the next phase of the journey, if you catch my drift. After this year I could almost keep up with them, what with my faux heart attack, cystoscopy and the hernia operation to name a few, but no, we keep it light. We are a think tank of creative intellectuals and, like Picasso's group at the Quatre Gats, discuss our latest work, what's happening at the museums or galleries around town and what is wrong in the world. It may move on to who won last night's Orioles game and the lousy bull pen. I have to say that I have learned a great deal from these men and look forward to each Wednesday. What I have really gleaned from them is a revelation that age truly is just a number.